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Open Letter to the People of Red Hook

The most recent issue of hometown paper the Red Hook Star Revue contains a letter to the editor written by our own Judge Calabrese. In the letter, the Judge expresses his deep admiration for the people of Red Hook, praising a community full of "True Champions." Take a look at the letter below, on the Star Revue's website, or pick up a print copy at the Justice Center or your favorite Red Hook business.

Open letter to the people of Red Hook

I am writing to show my deep admiration for the people of Red Hook. Sandy devastated our community. Local businesses endured massive flooding which caused structural, property and inventory loss. Residents saw their homes destroyed or faced unbelievably hard conditions, without water, heat or electricity for an extended period of time, losing personal property, their vehicles and the normal comforts of home.

Despite these difficulties, the people of Red Hook came together as a real community and assisted each other in every possible way to help their fellow neighbors, sharing precious supplies of food, candles, water and flashlights and going door to door just to check on each other. Up and down Van Brunt Street, store owners assisted one another--lending a helping hand or lending a generator and pump to drain out flooded basements. Local organizations offered warming centers, phone charging centers and others provided hot showers and hot meals. Volunteers came from all across the city to assist however they could, bringing much needed supplies, food and hope.

In these trying times, the spirit and character of our Red Hook Community shined. Even when faced with waiting in lines in the bitter cold in the middle of Coffey Park, not knowing when supplies would arrive, our residents stood there and waited. They behaved respectfully and graciously towards each other. No incidents of yelling, pushing, or shoving. Unbelievably, most did not even complain. Person after person collected their share of goods, thanked the volunteers and began their walk back to their dark and cold apartments, many having to carry those items up many flights of stairs in complete darkness. And they did this day after day in conditions described by the New York Times as "Third World squalor." Remarkably, some even waited in these lines and made the journey not for themselves or their families, but for their neighbors who were incapable of doing so themselves.

Impressively, crime basically stopped in Red Hook during this difficult time. Although officers from PSA and the 76th precinct were visible everywhere in Red Hook, they spent much of their time escorting residents, volunteers and medical staff up and down stairwells in the Red Hook Houses. Captain Schiff from the 76th Precinct worked night and day in Red Hook, despite suffering personal hardship. These officers remained committed to our community even though the PSA satellite office at Red Hook was submerged and many officers suffered their own losses.

We celebrate championships in sports and talk about the character it takes to be labeled a champion. Sandy helped us to see our real life champions, people who rose above, in times of extreme hardship--under real stress, under real pressure, not just for one brief moment or the length of a football game but for days and weeks. I saw grace under pressure, calmness, coolness and dignity, caring and concern for others--what I saw was the true character of the people of Red Hook and they are and always will be, "True Champions."

Thank you for inspiring us,

Hon. Alex Calabrese, Presiding Judge, Red Hook Community Justice Center


  1. Thank you soon much Honorable Judge Calabrese! I want to acknowledge your efforts as well. Everyday I saw you out and about helping with supplies and monitoring the situation.. At one point I told you to go home and get a bigger coat because you had spent several hours distributing supplies in Coffey Park and the weather was changing. I just want to tell you I discovered how much I admire you and appreciate you and may God bless you. Sincerely yours, Karen Blondel


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